It was an epic day of biking 120 miles with over 10,000 feet of climbing along three mountain passes in Colorado; yes, I’m referring to the Triple Bypass ride in Colorado this weekend, one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.

This was the 30th year for the Triple Bypass. The ride starts at Evergreen, heading west over Juniper, Loveland and Vail. Riders travel over gorgeous mountain passes and on bike paths.  Over 4000 rides showed this year after last year event was canceled due to wild fires; they offer riders the option to ride one pass (30 miles) or two passes (75miles). This ride is not a race, but it is an internal competition within each of the riders. The proceeds of the Triple Bypass are given to the local non-profit volunteer groups.

This year, the ride had unusual weather temperatures starting in the 60’s peaking at high 90’s by the end of the day. In fact, It was a gorgeous day with ideal riding conditions. There were five rest and aid station located along the ride, approximately every 15-20 miles, with plenty of food including fruits, pb&J and Nutella sandwiches, sodas, and lots of snacks. Unfortunately, a few of the rest stops ran out of water.

There is nothing easy about this ride but the scenery and views are worth every pedal stroke, I promise you that. Altitude can play a roll for people not used to higher elevation, especially at the top of the mountains. In addition, riders must dress for the different weather and temperatures, as it does get cold at the top of the mountains and it can rain, sleet and snow. A rain jacket, gloves and layers are essential.

The roads are in magnificent condition, however good bike handling skills are necessary as the down hills can be very technical and you can easily go over 40 mph coming down the passes. I personally found the second pass to Loveland the most challenging, especially the last four miles. Reaching the top is incredibly rewarding, both physically and mentally. At this point, it’s all about the mental challenge of talking yourself through each pedal stroke, taking deep breaths, and looking around to take it all in.

This was an epic adventure and one I will cherish for years to come.  In a way, this ride is a great metaphor for life: “the best views come after the hardest climbs” right? The views at Juniper, Loveland, and Vail passes are breathtaking, the long climbs can be painful, and the downhills are exhilarating. There were months of training and many bike rides to get me ready for this, but after all, it’s all about the journey, as the views at the top of each mountain reiterated. There is no doubt in my mind this experience allowed me to test my mental and physical limits while forcing me to step outside of my comfort zone. Thanks to my friend Julia for coming with me; I am always grateful for friends willing to share these crazy adventures with.

And finally, a huge shoutout to our cheering squad at Loveland pass, second pass at 11, 990 Ft, who had Stan’s donuts, coke and lots of other snacks for us. Huge thanks to all the volunteers who made this ride possible and the Team Evergreen organization for keeping everyone safe. I highly recommend making the trip out to Colorado to experience this beautiful and life-changing ride.

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Erika has been an endurance athlete for over 20 years. She fell in love with running in her 20’s in graduate school, working full time and being a single mother. Running became time for reflection. She has run over 30 marathons and countless triathlons; qualified for 70.3 World championships. To qualify for Kona is her next goal! She loves being a mom to a wonderful young lady and a fur puppy (cocker spaniel). Travel and exploring new places to train around the world is a passion. She is a licensed clinical counselor who specializes in the treatment of anxiety, depression and trauma. She spent 15 years in academia and has recently taken a role as a clinical director to focus on her clinical work. Erika believes in the therapeutic benefits of endurance training for people who struggle with mental health illness and stress. She is patiently waiting until we can all travel and race safely again, until then she recommends staying active, healthy. and consistent.

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